Former Argentina defender Marcos Rojo has opened up about his crucial goal against Nigeria’s Super Eagles during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, saying it saved the team from humiliation, Soccernet.ng reports.
The defender, who is no longer part of the Argentina national team, revealed his thoughts in an interview on TyC Sports (via Mundo Albiceleste).
In the last Group D match for both teams, Lionel Messi gave the Argentines the lead in the 14th minute, but Nigeria equalised moments into the second half through a Victor Moses penalty.
Rojo’s goal in the 86th minute of the game then lifted Argentina to a 2-1 win and secured their place in the knockout stages of the competition.
The defender spoke about the relief he felt at the time, saying that it would have been “crazy” to be dumped out of the tournament with Lionel Messi on the pitch.
“The goal I celebrated the most at the 2018 World Cup was against Nigeria,” Rojo said. “I didn’t know I had Messi on my back; I just wanted to get to Mercado, who played me the cross.
“He crossed it, and I was there with my right foot, impossible. I hit it with my right foot but perfectly hit it. I could kick 100 times, and I wouldn’t score.”
Rojo described the importance of the goal, saying that it saved the team from a potential catastrophe.
The former Manchester United man added, “It would have been crazy to be eliminated in the group with Leo on the pitch; they would have killed us all, imagine. It was going to be a catastrophe, so imagine the relief that was, in that minute.”
Despite beating Iceland at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Nigeria exited the tournament in the group stage following defeats to Croatia and Argentina.
A draw against the South Americans would have seen the Gernor Rohr-tutored Eagles progress to the knockout round alongside Croatia.
The Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after Ghana eliminated them in the final playoffs.